Our Honeymoon Journal
     Entry 25 - 14 September 2000
LA...to Auckland and then Brisbane! The 14th/15th/16th was very warm and sunny.  Click here to see what the weather is like today.
  Homeward bound

Chris The last day of our honeymoon. With the flight back to Brisbane, this became a very long day for us. It didn't help that we started out feeling tired. The noisy airconditioner and luke warm showers had again taken their toll.
  What do you mean, we can't check in our luggage?After having some of the motel supplied continental breakfast (the limited menu choice was much the same as yesterday), we re-packed our overstuffed bags and checked out. Our first destination was the LA airport. We planned to drop off our luggage before doing some sightseeing. It was a good theory, until we arrived at the airline counter and found that check-in for our flight wasn't until 3pm. We now had to drive around with our luggage in the car, a prospect that made me nervous in LA.
  With having to deal with LA driving and traffic, the hassels of the airport parking centre and the check-in process with its subsequent disappointment, I was being constantly reminded why I hate LA. I've been to this city on other occasions and it was from these visits that I had developed the dislike for the place. In my opinion, it is the worst city in the US that I have ever visited. I feel that LA is full of opportunistic, slimy, money grabbers with little or no soul, out to get whatever they can at the expense of everyone else. Imagine being surrounded by lots of lawyers if you wish to understand the distaste I have for the place.
Vanessa I felt the same way about Las Vegas and some parts of Nevada. It's a very uncomfortable feeling.
Chris Determined to make the best of the day despite this setback, we left the airport and headed north towards the La Brea tar pits. As we drove along La Cienega Boulevard, we saw some oil pumps operating right next to the road. It seemed bizarre to be in the middle of this huge city with a hillside of oil pumps. I suppose you get oil from wherever you can.
  The La Brea tar pits are located in downtown LA just off Wilshire Boulevard near La Brea Avenue. We arrived around lunch time, so we got our lunch at the Koo Koo Roo restaurant-deli across the road. After eating our nice fresh chicken There were also fossilised sabretoothed cats!and turkey salads, we walked around the fenced area containing the big tar pit with the famous model mammoths. Methane gas welled up through the tar pool, causing bubbles across the surface. It smelt like roadworks, which is no surprise really. The George C Page museum has lots of fossils extracted from the site. One amazing feature was the wall display of approximately 400 dire wolf skulls.
Vanessa The La Brea tar pits is another of those places, like Disneyland, that I had seen documentaries about on TV since I was little. I was fascinated by it. The La Brea fossils weren't dinosaur relics, but they were near enough to being so. Many years later, when I saw the movie "Volcano" in which the pits featured as a prime location, I was surprised to find that they were in the middle of a heavily built up area of the city, not out in the countryside somewhere, as I had thought. This made me even more intrigued, so when we were planning our holiday, they were noted as a "must see". We had planned to spend our final day in LA doing some sightseeing, so this was the perfect opportunity. We could have spent more time at the museum, but there were other sights to see as well.
Chris We jumped back in the car and drove around Hollywood Hills to see part of Hollywood and, of course, The Sign. We saw glimpses of "HOLLYWOOD" before getting to Griffith Park, but we couldn't get a decent photo of it while driving. We continued up into the hills of Griffith Park for a while, but we were still not able to see the sign. Eventually were forced to turn back without reaching it - we were running out of fuel! The Hollywood sign proved easier to see from Sunset Boulevard. Vanessa finally was able to get some photos.
Vanessa I was a little disappointed that we didn't get closer to the sign, but I didn't want to run out of petrol driving in the hills! The road up there was quite steep and narrow in places and it was not a good place to be stranded. Once we turned back, it was just easier to keep going along Sunset Boulevard. We knew we'd have a much better chance of finding a petrol station there. I was, once again, glad that it was Chris who was doing the driving. The traffic was terrible in places and, of course, there were roadworks...
Chris Normally, I like to take the option of returning the rental car "full", but it was more cost-effective this time as fuel prices in LA were significantly lower than they had been in downtown San Francisco. We were returning the car today, so I hadn't wanted to put any unnecessary fuel into it. Besides, I thought we would have plenty to spare. However, because it was taking us so long to get anywhere through all the traffic, we were going through it much more quickly than I had expected. We had to stop at a gas station.
  Another downer for the day!We found one, but I got quite frustrated with the stupid bowser setup. It didn't accept my credit card, so unlike most places where you can fill up and then go inside to pay, I had to go inside first and prepay in cash. Just another reason to hate LA because it seems no one trusts anyone else. To top it off, I wasn't sure if the pump was going to cut off at the amount I prepaid, so I let go of the nozzle handle a bit before it reached the amount in order to control the flow more precisely. Big mistake! It refused to continue dispensing any more. Fortunately I had enough fuel with what I'd got, so I went inside again to get my change. A very dumb system.
  We continued our drive along Sunset Boulevard, then Santa Monica Boulevard, travelling through Hollywood to Beverly Hills.
Vanessa As we were driving, we came to a set of traffic lights and had to stop. A very ragged-looking street person was begging at the lights. Across from the lights was a sign announcing that the suburb beyond was Beverly Hills. From then on, there was a immediate and drastic change in the buildings on that side of the road. We had been passing through a light commercial area that was very run down in appearance. Directly after the traffic lights there were cool, tree-lined streets and large, expensive houses with elegant gardens. The sudden contrast was quite shocking.
  The beaches were okay, but nothing special.We continued along Santa Monica Boulevard until we came to the suburb of Santa Monica itself and the beach. So these were the famous beaches of LA? They seemed nothing special to me - much like Sydney's Bondi or Manly beaches. I guess, though, their easy accessibility from the city is what makes them so popular.
Chris We drove along the beach road towards Venice Beach, but couldn't find an easy access road for a better view of the ocean. Eventually we gave up, being quite tired by this time, and we headed back towards the airport. By now, it was getting late in the afternoon. I wasn't sure how long it would take us to get there through the traffic and I was expecting the worst, however it turned out ok.
  We checked in our major luggage at the airline counter and found that, as had happened on our trip over, our seats were not going to be together! Someone had stuffed up our booking. Fortunately we were early, so the seats were changed fairly easily. It was then time to take the car back to the Alamo rental agency. The return was handled quickly and efficiently and we were soon on our way back to the airport via the complimentary shuttle bus.
  It was time for dinner, so we thought it would be best to go through the airport inspection to our gate and find food in a near-by restaurant. Unlike most airports, the choice of eating places at LAX near the gates was pathetic. I was forced to go back out to the main terminal area while Vanessa waited with our gear. At least this allowed me to get my final Mexican meal for the trip - Tacos, salsa and chips - yum! Although it sounds strange, it was good to be able to get "medium" salsa that was particularly hot to me. Unfortunately, as I was about to get on a plane for a long flight home, I thought it best not to risk eating it. Vanessa had wisely asked for a bland meal - I had got her some meatloaf, rice and mashed potatoes. She said it was a bit lukewarm and tasteless.
  Then we waited. Our flight was scheduled for 2130, so we had a couple of hours in the gate area.
Vanessa The worst part of the flight is the waiting...While we were waiting, we struck up a conversation with a few of the people who were waiting for the same flight. We spoke with a New Zealand lady who had been visiting her husband who was in the US on business. We also had a nice conversation with an American lady who had emigrated to Australia a few years ago but was back for a holiday to visit her parents. As we spoke, we watched the sun slowly sink beneath the horizon. The long seconds crawled into minutes into hours...
Chris We finally boarded the plane and found our seats to be okay - up near the front, just before business and first class. The only hassle was that it was almost impossible to see the TV monitor from there. This didn't prove to be a big problem, because we only watched one of the three movies shown on the flight back to Auckland. We slept through the rest. The movies were "Gone in 60 Seconds", which we saw (quite average), "High Fidelity" and "Frequency". For me, this flight wasn't too bad, because I was so tired that even the uncomfortable seat couldn't keep me awake.
  We landed in Auckland in the early morning, just before the dawn of 16th September. During our flight we had crossed the International Date Line again, this time losing a day.
Vanessa The 15th September was an extremely short day for us. Chris worked out that it was only about two hours long!
Chris Our stopover in Auckland was for one and a half hours. We were able to watch the sun rise during this time. Although it was good to stretch our legs, the delay was most annoying as we knew there was another flight to go to get home. It also was a sap to our energy, making the whole journey just that bit more exhausting.
  Good dog, Oscar!We finally arrived in Brisbane at 8 am, local time. As we were collecting our bags, "Oscar", one of the Beagle sniffer dogs picked out our backpack. It had been carrying some food (apples, snacks, etc) just a couple of days before. After explaining this to the lady handling Oscar and showing her the pack's contents, we had no further problems. We joined the huge queue for quarantine and eventually got outside to get a taxi home. The luggage only just managed to fit into the car! The taxi driver was talkative and had travelled to the US and Canada, so we discussed various things about his and our trips.
  It was 9:30 am when we arrived home. The luggage was quickly dumped inside the house so we could race off to get Crystal from the cattery.
Together That's the end of our journey. We hope you enjoyed our journal and photos!